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Wall Street Journal Prime Rate


The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate (WSJ Prime Rate) is a widely used benchmark interest rate in the United States. It is based on the federal funds rate and predominantly determined by the rates set by the top 30 U.S. banks. The WSJ Prime Rate serves as a reference point for various types of loans, credit lines, and consumer interest rates.


Here’s the phonetic breakdown of the keyword “Wall Street Journal Prime Rate”:- Wall: wɔːl- Street: striːt- Journal: ˈʤɝːnəl- Prime: praɪm- Rate: reɪtWhen spoken together, it would sound like: wɔːl striːt ˈʤɝːnəl praɪm reɪt.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate is a consensus prime rate used as a base rate by commercial banks to set interest rates for various lending products. It is a widely respected and influential benchmark in the financial industry.
  2. This prime rate is determined by the Wall Street Journal via a survey of the ten largest banks in the United States. The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate is then published as an average of the results, usually representing the most creditworthy borrowers.
  3. When the Federal Reserve adjusts its policy rates, either increasing or decreasing the federal funds rate, banks generally follow suit by adjusting their prime rates accordingly. As a result, changes to the prime rate can have significant impacts on consumers, including on credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, and mortgages.


The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate is important because it serves as a widely-accepted benchmark interest rate used by financial institutions in determining the lending rates for various types of loans, credit cards, and adjustable-rate mortgages. It is based on the federal funds rate set by the Federal Reserve and represents the rate at which banks lend to their most creditworthy customers. By reflecting prevailing market conditions and monetary policy, the WSJ Prime Rate influences borrowing costs for consumers and businesses, ultimately impacting decisions about credit and investments. As a result, it plays a critical role in shaping the overall economy and financial landscape.


The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate is a key interest rate that plays a vital role in the financial industry, particularly in the lending and borrowing sectors. This benchmark interest rate serves as a reference point for banks to set their lending rates for various consumer and commercial credit products. The purpose of this rate is to standardize the pricing of credit products and ensure consistency across lending institutions. By deriving their interest rates from the WSJ Prime Rate, financial institutions can create a uniform pricing structure for these products and provide an environment that fosters a sense of trust and fairness to their customers. This rate not only helps in determining interest rates on various types of loans, such as mortgages, auto loans, and personal loans, but is also used in setting the rate on credit card accounts and lines of credit extended to businesses. Additionally, the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate serves as an indicator of the overall country’s economic health and the monetary policy set by the Federal Reserve. Financial institutions closely monitor the prime rate as it rises and falls in response to changes in the federal funds target rate, which is the rate at which banks lend reserve balances to other banks on an overnight basis. When the Federal Reserve raises the federal funds rate, banks will typically follow suit by increasing their prime lending rate to cover their increased borrowing costs, and vice versa when rates are lowered. Ultimately, the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate aids consumers and businesses in understanding the current lending landscape and allows them to make informed decisions about obtaining credit products based on their unique financial situations.


The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate, often shortened to “prime rate,” is an interest rate used by banks as a benchmark for lending rates. It is usually based on the federal funds rate set by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Wall Street Journal surveys the 30 largest U.S. banks and finds the most prevailing prime rate, which is then published as the WSJ Prime Rate. Here are three real-world examples of its implications: 1. Business Loans: A small business owner is looking to secure a loan or line of credit for expanding their operations. The bank uses the WSJ prime rate as a reference, and then adds a margin depending on the creditworthiness, financial history, and industry risk factors of the business. For example, the loan might be set at “prime plus two percent” for a well-qualified borrower, so if the prime rate is 3.25%, the final interest rate would be 5.25%. 2. Adjustable Rate Mortgages: A homebuyer is seeking an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) which has an interest rate that can change over time. The lender often sets the initial interest rate in relation to the WSJ prime rate. For instance, the ARM interest rate might be set as “prime minus 0.5%.” After a fixed initial period, the interest rate is set to change annually, based on fluctuations in the prime rate plus a predetermined margin. 3. Credit Cards: A consumer applies for a credit card with a variable interest rate, which means the interest charged on outstanding balances correlates with changes in the prime rate. The credit card issuer may set the interest rate as “prime plus 10%.” Consequently, if the WSJ prime rate rises, cardholders will see their credit card interest rates increase as well, affecting the amount they pay on outstanding balances.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate?
The Wall Street Journal Prime Rate (WSJ Prime Rate) is an interest rate benchmark based on the prime rates set by the leading US banks. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) publishes this rate and provides an average of these rates on a regular basis, typically reflecting the changes made by the largest US banks.
How is the WSJ Prime Rate determined?
The WSJ Prime Rate is determined by the interest rates set by the top ten banks in the United States. The WSJ calculates a consensus prime rate by taking an average of the rates set by these banks. When at least 70% of these banks (i.e., seven out of ten) change their prime rates, the WSJ Prime Rate will be updated accordingly.
What is the significance of the WSJ Prime Rate?
The WSJ Prime Rate plays a key role in the financial industry as it serves as a benchmark for various types of loans and credit products. Many consumer and business loan interest rates, such as adjustable-rate mortgages, credit card rates, and personal loans, are often based on the WSJ Prime Rate plus a margin.
How often does the WSJ Prime Rate change?
The WSJ Prime Rate changes when a sufficient number of the largest US banks adjust their prime lending rates. If at least seven out of ten banks change their rates, the WSJ Prime Rate will be updated. There is no specific schedule for these updates, as it depends on the banks’ decisions to change their prime rates.
Where can I find the current WSJ Prime Rate?
You can find the current WSJ Prime Rate on the Wall Street Journal’s website or in its print edition. Additionally, many financial news outlets and websites, including financial institutions, provide the prime rate information as well.
Does the WSJ Prime Rate affect the Federal Reserve’s decisions on monetary policy?
While the WSJ Prime Rate is not directly tied to the Federal Reserve’s decisions on monetary policy, the two are related since the Federal Reserve’s actions, such as adjustments to the federal funds rate, may influence the banks’ prime lending rates. In turn, these changes may lead to fluctuations in the WSJ Prime Rate. Therefore, it’s fair to say that the Federal Reserve’s actions can have an indirect impact on the WSJ Prime Rate.

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